For years people have discussed the 'mess' within the Message. They have talked about the many different Message sects which have sprung from it: Parousia, Thunders, Two Soul, Return Ministry, etc...the list goes on. They have observed the damage this 'Movement' has caused to so many of its devoted followers. They have watched as an entire generation walked (or ran) away from it. Many ultimately concluded that it must be 'the way ministers are presenting it' that has caused so much confusion.
Superiority and Pride
Some Message preachers think they have an 'edge on truth'. They imply that they are superior to other Message churches; therefore if you are part of their assembly, you are the 'elect of the elect' and that ONLY their group is rapture material. Many people have been damaged by the arrogant spirit of Message ministers, for they tout a Message of superiority and exclusivity. They condemn those who do not agree with it in its entirety-often including their personal views of it. After years of blaming ministers for misrepresenting the Message, there comes a time when you are forced to look deeper.
The Root Cause
With all the apples falling from the same tree, you are compelled to look at the tree itself. There is a subtle spirit of fear that holds people in subjection to the Message, and a perceived spiritual threat to those who would question it. People who have been under this philosophy recognize it as their safety zone.
'Trusting without question' is their security. They feel privileged to be called 'the chosen' and 'the favored'. Getting people 'into the Message' has unfortunately replaced leading souls to Christ. That's because embracing the doctrines of the Message and following it's rigid requirements - IS CHRIST - to William Branham's followers. It is clearly understood by Message believers that to be a follower of William Branham is to be a follower of Christ, and likewise; to be a follower of Christ, you must be a follower of William Branham. It's obvious that Branham Tabernacle was the origin of the Message movement, and the fundamental foundation it was built upon.
The Message is Christ?
Many claim that William Branham is equivalent to Jesus Christ come in the flesh; therefore every word he spoke is like the red-letter edition of the Bible. This is apparent in the names assigned to "Spoken Word" Ministry and "Voice of God" Recordings. If you point out statements he made that are diametrically opposed to each other, they will tell you that BOTH are right!
The Message replaces Christ?
Although other Message churches claim they disagree with Branham Tabernacle (some even refer to them as the Anti-Christ), they actually operate on the same principles. While they refute the thought that William Branham was Christ, they fiercely defend the concept that HIS WORDS are Christ. People can randomly reach into eleven hundred tapes, pull out a quote, and use it like a Scripture. In fact, they use quotes to REPLACE Scripture.
In a conversation with a minister, concerning Marriage and Divorce, someone quoted the actual words of Jesus. The minister said "I would love to preach that, but I can't because of these quotes". William Branham said a man could put away his wife any time he wants, but don't let her try to put him away. Jesus said that a husband and wife are one flesh , and what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Doesn't it seem strange that ANY man's word would outrank the words of Christ Himself?
What caused William Branham's views to disagree with the Bible?
Did you ever consider how often William Branham was speaking out of his own complexes? One example is his attitude toward women. Anyone associated with the Message is aware of the degrading terms he used in referring to them. The pain of watching his daddy commit adultery with various women from his bootleg still, definitely left its mark.
It must have been traumatic when his Dad locked his mother (with himself and his siblings) out of the house all night, while he was inside committing adultery. Although his father was the one who owned the still (and the one committing adultery), William Branham blamed and hated women all of his life because of it. It seems that all women were to pay for the sins of his father. He referred to them as 'not being worth a good clean bullet to kill them with', dog meat, by-product, and lowest creature on earth.
People justify this attitude by saying he was not referring to 'sisters'. But to shed light on how wrong his attitude was... picture Jesus sitting at Simon's house, pointing to the prostitute at his feet and saying, "She's not worth a good clean bullet to kill her with!" On the contrary, Jesus loved her, and rebuked the self-righteous men who would judge and condemn her. When the Pharisees brought to Him the woman caught in adultery, He pointed out the many sins of the men who would have stoned her, and had great love and compassion for the woman.
The impact of culture on William Branham
Many of William Branham's ideas reflected the general opinion of the society in his era. In the 50's and early 60's, basically all of the women wore dresses. To wear pants was to insinuate that she was of an equal status as a man, and therefore frowned upon. Even the godless men back then had similar ideas about the role (and place) of a woman. After all, she had to work for years to earn the right to vote (much like people of other races). William Branham strongly disagreed that they should have been granted this right. He made it clear that a woman's ONLY value was in the role of being a wife and mother, yet he did not equate the value of a man to his role of being that of a husband and father.
By their fruits...
It has also been of grave concern to many people, the number of Message preachers who have fallen in sexual sin. It is not at all uncommon for men who are in a religion that is oppressive to women, to have these kinds of issues. When a man assigns himself disproportionate power and privilege over other people, unfortunately, it often leads to this type of situation.Looking at the damage 'the Message' has caused in the lives of so many, and judging by the number of people who are turning away from it in order to embrace the Cross, one must consider that something is undeniably wrong.
If you can't live the message...
Sadly, many young people who have left the Message have turned away from the perception of God entirely. Although this is baffling to many Message people, they must realize that this is exactly what they were taught all of their life. They were told that outside of the Message... there is no God. So when they left the Message...there was no God. It makes perfect sense. And in spite of the effects that 'performance-based' religion has had on their children, many people still fervently adhere to it, and require it of their families.You know something is amiss when so many people have to leave the Message in order to find the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. There is no free gift of salvation in the Message. If you agree with Message doctrine and adhere to its requirements...you are saved, if you don't...you are lost. The perception that Salvation is a free gift that Christ Alone paid for, is a foreign concept in the Message.
You cannot question the Message
The belief that William Branham is a major Prophet, supports the idea that his words are the ABSOLUTE in the eyes of his followers. The perception that he was 'never wrong' lends credence to his voice being the literal 'Voice of God'. Thinking that his prophecies came to pass exactly as he prophesied, is his vindication for this position. But what if there were things he said that proved to be incorrect? Because his followers have taken EVERYTHING he said as being straight from God, finding out he was wrong in ANY area, can be disconcerting.
People who are (at long last) willing to admit William Branham was wrong in some areas, have to ask the question, how many things did he say that were, in point of fact, not true? How many things were actually fabricated? Because no one was allowed to question anything, no one was willing to look circumspectly at these discrepancies. When people learn that his prophecies did not come to pass the way he said, and that none of his 'vindications' (the angel cloud, the voice at the river, the bridge accident) actually happened, does this discredit him from being the ABSOLUTE on the Word of God? Does it mean his words essentially do not outrank Scripture? Does it mean that he does not qualify for the elevated role people have assigned to him?
Is the Message a new religion
If all of this is true, it begs the question, "Did people create a religion primarily out of the opinions and complexes of a man?"
Message followers point to the foretelling of a Prophet to the Gentiles. Look at the Scriptures that infer he was an old Testament Prophet (Mal 4:5&6). First read Malachi 1:1, The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. And also Malachi 4:4, Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statues and judgments. This is just prior to Malachi 4:5&6. He was speaking to Israel.Consider this Scripture in Jeremiah:Jeremiah 23:31, I am against the false prophets says the Lord. They use their own words and pretend it is a Message from me.
You MUST ask these questions
Much of the ministry has known about these 'discrepancies' in the Message for years. Why are they not willing to inform the laity of them? If they are dedicated to bringing TRUTH, then wouldn't they want to share ALL the truth with their congregation? Is the possibility of losing members more important than speaking the Truth? Do they give people the 'right' information so they will remain in their church and faithful to their own ministry?
These are questions most definitely worth asking. You may hesitate to search this out for yourself because you are afraid of what you might find. In fact, your pastor might strongly recommend that you don't. He may feel that he is the only one qualified.
But the Bible tells us to seek out our OWN salvation. It may be uncomfortable to venture into the 'forbidden land' of questioning the Message, and have everything you have believed laid out on the table, but it's the ONLY way to find truth. If you seek truth, do it prayerfully (with your Bible) and an open heart. And, after considering everything, if you still regard William Branham's word above all else, at least you know you are looking to a man with no vindication-and who fabricated much of what you have revered as truth-as your Absolute.
by Kathy Jenkins